How to Interview

So it’s interview season! (Well, when is it not??) I recall that last year I didn’t really start looking for internships until Feb/March, and it seems like a lot of this year’s first-years are following the same trends.

Now, this might sound a little weird, but you’ll have to excuse me since I am only a relative newcomer to the tech world– but over the past few months, I’ve realized that I really lucked out when I got my internship and subsequent job offer. Not only do I think I’m with a great company, a LOT of other people think the same thing! As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of requests to talk to people either looking for an internship or a job with VMware.

And as such, I have realized that not everyone approaches this process in the same way. Now, I’m not saying I’m a perfect role model, since I am definitely awkward. I talk really quickly about not a whole lot when I get nervous, I mumble, and I have a bad habit of opening my mouth and saying something different than what I was thinking. Uh, yeah. That’s why I like blogging and emailing. MUCH easier to avoid weird conversations through print. ANYWAY, I’ve compiled my (unofficial) list of interview do’s and don’ts. Have I missed any?

Interview Do’s

  • DO send a thank-you note/email! It is a gesture of respect and is definitely appreciated.
  • DO show up on time. See above.
  • DO come prepared with questions. The worst possible question to hear is “I’d love more insights.” OK great. But now I have absolutely no idea where to start.
  • A great way to start off an info. interview is to begin with a brief overview of your background. This is especially useful if I haven’t met you before.
  • DO feel free to connect with me through LinkedIN– but only AFTER we’ve spoken. (And of course, don’t forget to personalize your request– this should go without saying).
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    Interview Don’ts

  • Don’t show up late to the interview/call. 5 minutes– I’ll let it slide. 15 minutes– not so much.
  • Please do your homework before your interviews. That translates to don’t email me the night before your interview because you ‘just’ realized I work for the company. It makes you look underprepared.
  • Don’t ask for special favors, especially if you don’t know me. I have no problem talking to people and answering their questions; I also have no problem with the concept of trading on your connections. That’s what they’re for, after all! But I can’t and won’t “endorse” someone over another candidate, particularly when I don’t know that person beyond a few questions they asked me over coffee at Starbucks.
  • Don’t expect to get a response back right away from HR or the hiring manager. We get really caught up in the idea that everything is real-time, especially given the now now now culture propagated by Facebook and Twitter. But companies move differently, and in all likelihood it will take longer than a day to get back to you.
  • Don’t agressively pursue multiple conversations with me if you have nothing new to ask or talk about. My time, like yours, is valuable and limited.
  • Please don’t ask me about salary information. First of all, I honestly don’t remember and I’m not going to go dig through my financial statements to give you a number. Second, that’s sensitive information and in most situations it’s probably not the best idea to directly ask someone for the amount they made. Third, I might not want to tell you, especially in a public setting, how much I made, given that other people are listening. Lastly, it should be enough that I told you the position is well-paid. Leave it at that. P.S. YOU DON’T HAVE THE JOB YET. Calm down!
  • Don’t repeat your interview answers to me word for word. A, I don’t care. B, you didn’t answer the question all that great.
  • If I have already spoken with you several times in person, on the phone, AND by email, there’s probably not too much left for me to tell you. And if I am very clearly busy doing something else, don’t latch on to me before I can even get my coat off– if it looks like I’m busy, that means I’m probably busy.
  • Don’t nod your head while I”m talking and then PROCEED TO ASK ME THE SAME QUESTION THREE TIMES!!! If you’re clearly not listening to me then why am I wasting my time sitting here and talking to you? Not only is this very frustrating, it’s incredibly disrespectful.
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    8 thoughts on “How to Interview

    1. Ha, yikes! Your “Interview Don’ts” sound painful. I can’t believe anyone was callous enough to ask the salary question — that’s just plain rude.

      • Hi Courtney,

        Thanks for stopping by! The ‘Interview Don’ts’ were mostly just one person, but he was annoying enough to inspire the post! Good luck with your MBA journey.

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